The Favorite Child: How a Favorite Impacts Every Family Member for Life

The Favorite Child: How a Favorite Impacts Every Family Member for Life 

by Ellen Weber Libby, PhD. (2010)

From Amazon:  For more than thirty years, veteran clinical psychologist Ellen Weber Libby has been helping successful, often-powerful clients in Washington, DC—a place known for its outsized personalities—deal with their personal problems. One pattern that has emerged out of some 60,000 hours of therapy is what she calls “the favorite child complex.” In this groundbreaking book, she describes in intimate detail how being the favorite child can confer both great advantages and also significant emotional handicaps.
While many of Dr. Libby’s clients are successful because of their favorite-child status—they have been brought up to believe that they can do anything and are unafraid of challenges— they suffer from an array of personality problems. Behind the outward appearance of money, power, charm, and attractive looks, they feel an intense pressure to maintain the façade at all costs. Sometimes their ability to tell the truth becomes shaky; sometimes their intimate relationships are elusive. In a series of chapters that offer insightful vignettes from actual therapy sessions (the identities of clients are disguised), Dr. Libby explores why parents, consciously or unconsciously, choose a favorite child, as well as the long-term effects of being the favorite son or daughter of either or both parents. She also discusses family situations where parents have successfully made each of their children feel favored and have instilled in their children a healthy emotional balance. She details parental skills and family processes that increase the likelihood of this type of success and that, most importantly, reduce the risk of the favorite child’s curse—power corrupted. Illuminating for adults trying to come to terms with their own emotional baggage as well as parents seeking the best way to rear their children, The Favorite Child makes for rewarding reading.

4 Effects of a Controlling Upbringing People Struggle With

4 Effects of a Controlling Upbringing People Struggle With

By Darius Cikanavicius
~ 5 min read


The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog

The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook – What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing, by Bruce D. Perry, MD, PhD. & Maia Szalavitz. (2007)

Child psychiatrist Bruce Perry has treated children faced with unimaginable horror: genocide survivors, witnesses, children raised in closets and cages, and victims of family violence. Here he tells their stories of trauma and transformation.

The ACoA Trauma Syndrome

The ACoA Trauma Syndrome: What Is an ACoA?

By Dr. Tian Dayton

At The Huffingtonpost, THE BLOG

9/19/2012 | Updated November 19, 2012

Undoing the Harm of Childhood Trauma

Undoing the Harm of Childhood Trauma and Adversity

By Mitzi Baker on October 05, 2016

From University of California San Francisco

How Do We Stop Childhood Adversity from Becoming a Life Sentence

How Do We Stop Childhood Adversity from Becoming a Life Sentence. | Benjamin Perks | TEDxPodgorica

TEDx Talks

Published on Mar 6, 2015

Adverse childhood experiences are physical, sexual or emotional abuse and neglect as well as witnessing family violence, addiction or mental health episodes in the household. Firstly, new evidence on the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences will be presented-to give a sense of the magnitude of the problem. Secondly, research will be presented which demonstrates a direct link between the level of adversity in childhood and worse outcomes in adulthood in health, addiction, imprisonment, education and life success and new evidence from the field of neuroscience which explains this link. Thirdly ways to prevent and respond to childhood adversity and support victims will be presented, including integrated child protection systems, better equipped education systems and breaking the public taboo on the theme.

Benjamin Perks is the UNICEF Representative to Montenegro and United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. and also occasionally works for United Nations Staff College training on Human Rights Based Approach to Programming. He has served in numerous countries including Afghanistan, India, Georgia and Albania. He holds a Masters Degree in International Conflict Analysis from University of Kent in Canterbury and a Bachelors Degree in Contemporary Studies (History and Politics) from University of Hertfordshire and has recently completed a programme on Leadership and Education Reform at the Graduate School of Education at University of Harvard.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at